The first week of September was a break week, so the month only consisted of three weeks of content. It was an interesting month nonetheless, particularly in the Functional Health track, as we covered a number of dietary variations within and out of the paleo sphere.
September’s Functional Health content covered paleo for athletes, paleo for women, higher-carb paleo, and ketogenic diets. We got an overview of each approach and considerations of the unique needs of various populations. We looked at the Low FODMAP diet for those suffering from histamine intolerance and the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) to treat autoimmune conditions.
We had an interesting lesson on the Potato Hack diet – a quirky weight loss diet involving short stints of eating nothing but potatoes. It was kind of amusing but also proved a more promising intervention than one would expect and a good way to feed resistant starch to healthy gut bacteria. I kept thinking of Matt Damon in The Martian. A pretty good movie, actually, about an astronaut stranded on Mars who figures out a method for growing potatoes.
We closed out the month with a lesson on vegan and vegetarian diets, which as a former vegetarian was of particular interest to me. The video content on vegan/vegetarian diets didn’t really provide any information that I was not already familiar with. But there was opportunity to ask questions during our TA session, which I found valuable. Chris Kresser’s take, in a nutshell: It’s possible, though not optimal, to be healthy on a vegetarian diet when it is informed by paleo principles. It’s not really possible to maintain longterm health on a vegan diet.
Overall I was pretty happy with the Functional Health track this month. I wish that the lesson on vegan and vegetarian diets had gone more in depth – instead we got links to Chris Kresser’s blog posts on the subject. And I wish that we had taken up the topic of the carnivore diet and its surprising yet widely reported effectiveness as an autoimmune protocol.
Art and Practice of Coaching
In the APC track, most of the content was delivered by Ken Kraybill as we continued our studies of motivational interviewing. I don’t have anything new to say about that material that I haven’t already said in previous posts. It’s good material. Ken Kraybill comes across as an authority in the field. It’s arguably the heart of the ADAPT course.
We had three instructor sessions in September. One with Ken Kraybill on the topic of Evoking. One with our lead mentor coach, Betsy Salkind, on how to formulate a wellness vision with our clients. And one with Forest Fein on the topic of mindfulness.
Both Ken Kraybill and Betsy Salkind incorporated live coaching demonstrations with student volunteers into their sessions. As we journey deeper into the coaching material, I’m finding it more and more helpful to witness experienced coaches at work. Hats off to the brave students willing to open themselves up to a live audience!
A Criticism of the Mindfulness Track
I’ve been holding back on criticizing the mindfulness track for a couple of reasons.
One: As an experienced meditator and student of spiritual paths I went into the course assuming that the mindfulness track would be an introductory program, tailored to beginners, which it has proven to be. I can’t fault it for that.
Two: The vast majority of students in the course seem to be getting a lot out of it.
That said, I’ve found the lessons redundant. The same message is presented over and over with very little variation on the theme: be mindful; pay attention to what you’re feeling, thinking, and experiencing in the present moment. That’s all fine and dandy; it’s good advice. But the term “one-trick pony” comes to mind (and yes, I’m mindful of how cantankerous that makes me sound).
It seems that the mindfulness track was designed with no consideration given to the possibility that some of us may already have a solid footing with meditative practices. I find that strange, given that meditation has been having a prolonged moment in popular culture. We are all assumed to have limited self-awareness. The tone after a while starts to feel condescending.
My biggest criticism though is that there has been absolutely no discussion on how to incorporate meditation instruction into our coaching – and no indication that anything of the like is forthcoming. The entire track seems designed solely to make us more “mindful” as coaches – mindfulness this, mindfulness that – with very little variation from week to week.
Going into the ADAPT course I was excited to learn that a mindfulness track would be a substantial part of the curriculum. I had assumed that it would be tailored to beginners but expected some of the content to nevertheless be of interest to someone like me. I had hoped that it would at the very least prepare me to teach meditation as part of my coaching offerings. For instance, what specific, step-by-step instructions might work for beginners? What can meditation coaching involve beyond the basic instructions: Be still, bring your attention back to your breath, etc? How can we effectively incorporate meditation instruction into a health coaching practice?
I have my own answers to such questions, but I had expected to be exposed to other opinions and approaches during the course.
As always, your questions and considerations are welcome in the comments.